Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sangweiher (the local wetland) (30th March)

A bit of a later start today but this time I was out with Ephraim in the direction of Sangweiher, a wetland about 7 miles up the road.  On our rather casual bike ride to the reserve, we bumped into no fewer than 5 Black Redstarts, a singing Willow Tit and a male Wheatear.  On arriving at the reserve, we were a little disappointing at the initial lack of birds as the scrape was full to the brim with water and the lack of last years muddy margins ruined our hopes for early migrant waders.  None the less, we stood around in the watchtower scanning across the small area of wetland (covering only a couple hundred meters squared).  A Willow Tit did draw our attention as it flew out into the open in front of the hide but it didn't start singing until it had disappeared again into the neighbouring hedgerow.  2 Chiffchaffs were the only other species of note before we gave up and headed for the woodland.

pelt, possibly belonging to an owl sp.

Still after my target species (Black Woodpecker), we wondered around the place for some time but despite ideal habitat all we could find were more Marsh Tits, Treecreepers and Nuthatches.  We emerged out of the woodland again at the boggy western side of the reserve and after aborting my search for a yaffling Green Woodpecker-like call, I joined my brother in the wood again.  However, I had just joined him when I turned around to see a pale grey bird hopping into a hedge, it was a GREAT GREY SHRIKE!  We both got brief views of its back end as it dived into the hedge but thankfully we refound the bird on the other side of the hedge as it perched up well in the open, affording some excellent views!

 Great Grey Shrike (at one of the few nesting sites in the county)

Unfortunately, we approached it a little too closely and it flew to the center of the reserve but I was distracted once again when a woodpecker species flew into the lower trunk of a nearby tree.  As it climbed up the trunk, I was astonished to see it was in fact a male GREY-HEADED WOODPECKER, another much sought after target species for both of us, it seemed the day was definitely improving!

male Grey-headed Woodpecker

It didn't stay long but we both got some record shots before we went back to photographing Marsh Tits and checking through the flocks of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Bullfinches.  Not to long after, I picked up the calls of Cranes!  It sounded as if they were coming over the horizon but despite scanning all around there was no sign of any!?  Then suddenly my brother shouted out and sure enough a flock of 73 CRANES were flying directly overhead!  They were still rather high up but began loosing height rapidly and came to land only about a kilometer away in a stubble field just east of the E44, unfortunately just out of sight.

migrating Cranes!

My brother and I decided to stay at the reserve instead of going through the effort of refinding the flock so we made our way back to the watchtower.  A very kind local birder gave us advice on the several good birding locations and species in and around the region, although this wasn't always as easy as one might seem given that my vocabulary of German birds was not that extensive!  None the less, we managed to point out a nice male Sparrowhawk to one another and best of all an adult male HEN HARRIER, that my brother called as it came glided past the hide, only about 20 meters away!


A rather successful ending to the day with a Green Sandpiper, 6 Roe Deer and a Hare to round the day off.

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